September 12, 2020
Athenaeum, 401 East Michigan Street, Indianapolis
The Athenaeum, built in 1894 and 1898 as Das Deutsche Haus, remains true to the “sound mind in a sound body” ethos of its freethinker German founders. Author Kurt Vonnegut’s architect grandfather’s firm Vonnegut & Bohn designed the German gymnasium and clubhouse, which the author declared his favorite of all of his ancestor’s works. Anxious to preserve their culture, and accustomed to clubs, German-Americans created societies for music, recreation and social activity, political and philosophical discussion, theater, exercise, and more.
In partnership with the Athenaeum Foundation, Indiana Landmarks offers guided tours of the National Historic Landmark on the second Saturday of the month, May through September. The tour explores the evolution of the building from a German clubhouse to a hub of modern urban life, with a theater, YMCA, and the Rathskeller, a restaurant/pub in continuous operation since the landmark’s earliest days.
You’ll learn about the German Renaissance Revival architecture, and the original mix of activities in the building—a gymnasium that promoted gymnastics and other physical exercise, a lecture hall and a theater, a restaurant and bars. You’ll hear how the Athenaeum was saved when it faced an uncertain future and restored, still fulfilling the role of clubhouse for cultural development and physical health.
Tours last approximately one hour and depart from the vestibule inside the Coat Check Coffee entrance to the Athenaeum, 401 East Michigan Street, Indianapolis. Enter using the west wing doors. With your ticket, you’ll also receive a handmade pretzel provided by the Rathskeller Restaurant at the tour’s conclusion.
Tickets: The tour costs $10 per person age 12 and up; $8 per member of Indiana Landmarks; $5 per child (age 6-11); and is free for children ages 5 and under.